Many of the women seeking assistance from the Women’s Cottage are in severe crisis for often complex life issues that can need long term support to resolve.
The Women’s Cottage has been a fixture of the Hawkesbury community for nearly 40 years, but desperately needs more space and improved disability access to meet the needs of the women and children using their services.
Fortunately, they have received a grant from the NSW government for that purpose and The Women’s Cottage is matching these funds from its own reserves, but it’s still not enough to complete the extensions needed. Community Development worker Mel Olsen said they had a tiny little cot-tage, with some of their workers now working offsite.
“We are excited about moving forward and are working with Council as owners of the building who are being very supportive.”
The extensions to the cottage will allow them to have proper disability access, with purpose-built toilets and access for everybody.
It will also mean a larger group room and extra counselling rooms. Ms Olsen said that The Women’s Cottage supports women with a broad range of issues.
“We assist women and children who are under stress,” she said.
“We are an information, advocacy and referral service, and specialise in supporting women impacted by domestic violence and other forms of trauma. “The Hawkesbury region has been under stress for a very long time. Many years of drought, then fires, and floods and COVID and the recent devastating floods.”
Ms Olsen said that so many years of stress has had long term impacts of families and issues of safety and emotional and financial distress. Mental health, anxiety and depression has also increased due to COVID, lock-downs and worries for the future.
“The recent floods have for many been the last straw and we’ve been bracing ourselves for even more women need-ing help for domestic violence and other safety issues,” she said.
“And the domestic violence we are seeing is becoming more serious and life threatening.
The Women’s Cottage has recently extended their opening hours to include Saturdays and increased Friday’s hours to 4 pm to try and respond to the ever increasing need.
Group work will also start again soon now COVID restrictions are lifting, but capacity to see women and run groups is very limited due to limited space. Extending the building will help the Women’s Cottage deal with the increased needs being seen now and into the future. Said Ms Olsen.
“We are asking all levels of community; individuals, businesses, church and community groups to join us in the support of vulnerable women and children” “We are doing all we can to raise the funds needed in the hope we can start the renovations by early 2022.”
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